CNN from February:
Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei, who refused to return home after being ordered to withdraw from the 2019 World Judo Championships to avoid facing an Israeli opponent, says he will never forget the kindness he's been shown by the Israeli judo team as he prepares to compete in a major tournament in Tel Aviv.
Mollaei said he had feared for his safety and that of his family after ignoring Iranian officials two years ago, who he says told him to lose his semifinal bout on purpose.
the IJF decided to suspend Iran from competing in international competitions following the incident, saying it was in breach of multiple codes.
Times of Israel today:
“Thank you to Israel for the good energy. This medal is dedicated also to Israel,” he told the network. “I hope the Israelis are happy with this win.”
Two judokas bowed out of the Tokyo 2020 Games in order to avoid facing Israeli Tohar Butbul, something the International Olympic Committee vowed to investigate. Sudan’s Mohamed Abdalrasool failed to appear at his slated competition against Butbul in the men’s 73-kg division on Monday, without providing a reason. And on Saturday, Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine pulled out of the contest to avoid facing Butbul, citing his support for the Palestinian cause.
“Obviously the IOC is always concerned in these cases and is monitoring it very closely,” International Olympic Committee director of solidarity James Macleod told a media briefing in Tokyo on Tuesday. “Clearly if there are flagrant abuses of the Olympic charter, the IOC will take all necessary measures in that respect.”